The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati crowns Mandela

Patna, Feb. 26: Nelson Mandela has won the ultimate acclaim: Mayavati has named him as one of her political idols. B.R. Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram are her other heroes.

The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister today dared the BJP to get her arrested, saying she would continue her struggle for the bahujan samaj from her prison, like her hero Mandela had done.

“They (the BJP) have been threatening me and unleashing the CBI and other agencies to hound me. The manuvadi media is supporting them. I will not relent, whatever the threat,” the Bahujan Samaj Party chief said.

“They put Mandela in jail for 27 long years as he was fighting for his country’s downtrodden. While he was inside, the number of his supporters saw a groundswell outside. Mandela’s opponents had to give in to the movement of the downtrodden. It can happen in India too,” Mayavati told an impressive swabhiman rally at Gandhi Maidan here.

Attacking the Congress, BJP and other manuvadi parties alike, the BSP leader would not say whom she will ally with in the coming elections.

“This is the coalition era. We are very clear on having alliances. Political parties want the vote of the bahujan samaj. All of them are drooling and approaching us. But we will align with only that party (or parties) which promises to shift its votes to the BSP in return,” the leader said.

Mayavati said BSP state units have been asked to assess the potential and readiness of other parties to shift their votes to her party. “Almost 60 per cent of them have reported back. Let the other reports come in and we will clarify our policy on having an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections. Do not speculate or be misled by reports of the manuvadi media,” she added.

But sources close to her said the chances of the BSP joining hands with the Congress are “very strong”; an alliance with the BJP is “almost impossible”. “Everything has to be assessed in the context of Congress president Sonia Gandhi calling on our leader,” a source said. They would not comment on the BSP’s stand regarding Dalit parties like Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar.

Even so, Mayavati did not spare the Congress. “Ambedkar was not allowed to enter Parliament in 1952 from Bombay because the manuvadi Congress conspired to prevent him. You must avenge his humiliation from the Congress. The Congress’ downfall happened due to the rise of the bahujan samaj. Now the chache-bhatije (relatives) of the Congress have formed other manuvadi parties like the BJP and lured some leaders of the bahujan samaj. All of them need to be taught a lesson,” she told the crowd.

The BSP chief said Ambedkar felt the “master key” to the uplift of the bahujan samaj lay in grabbing power at the Centre and the states.

“Our objective is to grab political power everywhere. And so long as we cannot do that we must make the BSP indispensable to the formation of a government anywhere.”

The former chief minister slammed the “recruiting” of film stars and nachaniya (dancers) by some parties. “These filmwallahs can help in gathering crowds and entertaining them. But they will fail in converting the gathering into votes,” Mayavati said to thunderous applause.

“Go and ask the members of the bahujan samaj if they are feeling good. They continue to live in the same squalor since Independence. They are feeling as wretched as ever, definitely not feeling good,” she said, referring to the BJP’s feel-good campaign.

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